The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “Politics”

Nomination for a Woman Who Made America

There has been some talk lately about the Women Who Make America, due to a special on PBS. My mom has called me about it (a few times) and my twitter feed went bananas the first time the special was on. One of the tweets stated something like the real women that make America are pretty busy just getting sh*t done, so have no time to pause and congratulate themselves as part of a television special. These are the people who just do it, everyday, without recognition or accolades, because it (whatever it is), just needs to get done. It got me thinking..

My grandfather had a rural postal route many moons ago. When he decided to retire from his post, practice was that he would name the person to take his route. He decided that his daughter, Barbara, would take the post. She was interested in the job, qualified and looking for just a position. Her dad named her as his successor. This was met with a hearty “no thank you, what are you thinking appointing a woman to this job?” and “we’ll take it from here.” Undeterred, he took the request up the chain of command. When he did not get the answers he wanted, he sought legal help. No one was going to deny his daughter a job based on her gender. When it was made known that he had an attorney and was ready to fight for his appointment, the postal service relented and Barbara was awarded the position. She was one of the first women to hold a rural postal route. She faithfully (and successfully) carried out her duties with the postal service her entire career. Barbara left us last year after Alzheimer’s Disease took over her once very active brain. She was an excellent seamstress, postal worker, mother, grandmother and drove bus for the company that she owned.

My grandfather would not consider himself a political person. Barbara would not have considered herself a feminist. They were just two people who wanted to treated fairly and treated others in the same fashion. Barbara would have been too busy delivering the mail on her rural route to notice that PBS was doing a program about how women’s roles have changed and the women that were so instrumental in changing them. By doing her job well for so many years, she opened doors to other, qualified women that wanted to work in various positions in the postal service. This may not be newsworthy to many, but it is newsworthy to me. It shows that the people who make the United States a place where people are treated fairly and justly are not necessarily elected to high office, attend Ivy League schools or the like. It shows that people who make it a priority to do the right thing move our country forward.

Barbara is my nomination for the list of Women that Make America.

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Jaybird’s Birthday

Jaybird today, directing traffic with the School Patrol.

“Am I officially twelve yet?  What time was I born?  What was that day like?”  So many questions from Jaybird this morning.  Its her birthday.  She has never asked these types of questions before today.  We talked in generalities about the day, how it was the election of 2000, the infamous Bush v. Gore, that I had been in the hospital on bedrest for three weeks prior to her birth and that I was able to vote absentee with the help of my friend Sandy and the NAACP.  And, of course, that she was born at 5:53pm.

Three weeks in a hospital bed while lying only on your left side affords you the luxury to reflect on some serious stuff.  It also allowed for me to read a few books, (not on pregnancy, though, I was too nervous).  I also had time to call every organization I could think of for assistance in getting an absentee ballot for the presidential election approaching.  When neither the republican or democratic campaign offices could help, saying a deadline had passed and I was SOL, I called the League of Women Voters.  Again, no luck.  I called local representatives’ offices with no luck.  Then I called the NAACP, (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).  That’s right.  This white girl from a small town in Wisconsin called the NAACP, explained my situation to a very patient person and got answers.  They told me how to get a ballot, how to get it to the correct place, everything.  I am thankful to the NAACP and to Sandy for their assistance in voting that year.

Three weeks and twelve years ago I was admitted into the hospital with severe preeclampsia, a condition that means my blood pressure was similar to that of a shaken soda can.  During those three weeks on bed rest in the hospital, I often asked myself, “why?  Why me”?  I had done everything in the “right order”, attended and graduated from college, fell in love, got married, and then we waited until we were financially stable to start a family.  Okay, “financially stable” may be a stretch, but you get my point.  So, why, then, was I lying here in this hospital bed?  I had many friends and family come to visit me while in the hospital, my brother and I would read the Wall Street Journal sometimes and solve the world’s problems.  My husband or my parents were a constant at my bedside.  As the days went on, though, Jaybird was becoming more stressed in utero.  I remember telling my OB/GYN on a Friday that I didn’t think I would make it much longer, that I had a feeling that I would need to deliver soon.  He was patient and kind, assuring me that I was in good hands and that everything would be fine.  I came to a realization while in the hospital.  If one in eight babies (from March of Dimes website) was to be born premature, perhaps the question is not “why me?” but “why NOT me?”  After all, I had good health insurance and a terrific support system of family and friends.  Just thinking of all those kids out there that have daily challenges of getting clean water or food or are orphaned or abused or whatever made me realize that if the act of being born was her greatest challenge, we were a lucky family indeed.

As the day of November 7 progressed, a few things happened. I was growing more confused as a result of the preeclampsia and my parents had come to my room for a visit.  Thank goodness they did.  My mom, a nurse, had instructed me upon being admitted to the hospital to write a list of everyone that I could think of that could get in touch with my husband if something unthinkable happened.  The afternoon of November 7 my physician had given the orders that I was no longer allowed television, as election coverage made my already-high blood pressure enter the stratosphere.  It was also the afternoon that during my daily ultrasound all pleasant small talk ceased.  A strange seriousness came over the resident doing the ultrasound and she told me that she would be right back.  The Chief Resident entered, who continued the ultrasound.  My mother left the room.  I looked at my dad.  He grabbed my hand, sensing that I was frightened.  The Chief Resident looked at me and asked, “Where is your husband?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

“Is he here?”

“No.”

“Okay.  Get him here as soon as possible.  I am calling your OB and we need to deliver her today.”  The rest is a bit of a blur.  As stated above, my mother had instructed me to write a list of how to contact JB in the event of something unthinkable.  Something unthinkable had just happened.  I forgot where JB was and how to get in touch with him.

I was whisked away, prepped for surgery and told to relax.  Relax?  I was freaking out.  Only 29 weeks along (a pregnancy should go 40 weeks) and barely able to put a sentence together, I had no clue what was happening.  Listening to the OB/GYN and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist discuss the best way to deliver my baby was surreal.  I kept thinking of a news story that I had read a few weeks earlier about a woman who gave birth alone, on a treetop in Mozambique during a flood (http://babyworld.co.uk/2000/03/a-woman-gave-birth-in-a-treetop/).  If she could do that, what was my problem?

JB arrived at the hospital and was brought into the delivery operating room.  I asked him how his day was and what he had for lunch.  He stared at me incredulously.  I begged him to talk about something mundane and normal, as I was about to jump out of my skin in fear.  He had a sandwich, some fruit, water, you know, the usual.  The leaves were falling, Al Gore was predicted to win Florida’s electoral votes (this still makes me giggle a bit), and it was a nice day outside.

Then we heard her.  She was so very tiny and translucent, as many preemies are, yet screaming something fierce.  “Is that her?” I asked. Yes, it was her, and she was screaming.  She was small, 11 weeks premature and a bit translucent, but she was screaming and that was a very good sign.  There were so many people in the room at this point that I have no idea who was doing what.  I just know that they placed this small, crying baby on my chest and I have not been the same since.  She looked into my eyes and I instantly loved her.  Then, they took her away.   She weighed in at 1 pound 10 ounces, and was 13 inches long.  She fit in the palm of JB’s hand. She was very small, on a ventilator, but was otherwise healthy.  The vent lasted three days before it was no longer needed.  She graduated to the little prongs but eventually pulled those out on her own.  Her determination inspired me.  I had many more complications from giving birth so early but Jaybird continued to grow and develop.  The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) became home for a couple of months for us.  We were able to hold her, feed her, change her thumbelina diapers and love her.  JB will tell you that I cried quite a bit during this time.  It is a blur to me.  We brought her home two weeks before her due date, when she was able to hold her body temperature, could eat and breathe on her own.  She was four pounds.

Jaybird is about 3 lbs in this picture. The gold band around her arm is JB’s wedding band.

I am so thankful for the (very) little girl who was given to us on this day twelve years ago, and thankful for the person she is becoming.  Happy Birthday, Jaybird!

My Two Week Political Binge

It’s Friday and I am hungover.  The political conventions are over and I am spinning with visions of PBS in my head.  I need coffee.  The last two weeks I have been watching speakers and checking facts and tweeting and explaining what all this is to my kids.  I know it’s all a big scripted show.  (Unless, of course, you are talking with an empty chair.  Sorry, low hanging fruit, I couldn’t resist.)  So, yes, it is a scripted, highly produced spectacular about how great each candidate is and their vision for the future of the United States.  And I love it.

Growing up my family kept up on current events.  Are my parents Republican or Democrat?  I honestly don’t know.  Mom, Dad , my brother and I would talk about current events – 80s happenings – and we almost never agreed.  We had a say, though.  My brother and I were expected to debate. We were expected to engage in the conversation and have an educated opinion.  We were also expected to be open-minded and listen to others’ point of view.  Mom and Dad have opinions.  Strong opinions.  My dad especially has a tendency to get on rants about this and that.  I asked him once who he voted for in an election.  Once is the key word.  His reply? “Its nobody else’s business for whom you vote.  The important thing is that you always vote.”  Then he went on about how the US is a great country, all the hopes of his family when they arrived in the US many moons ago, and how anybody in the US can do anything they put their mind to… you get the idea.  So, is he a Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Communist? (j/k Dad, just wanted to see if you really read these posts) I don’t know.  We’ve always discussed multiple sides of an issue.  He and my mom would let us decide for ourselves.  At times this has not worked in their favor, mind you.

Back to my political hangover.

My kids have been asking what all the hubbub is about and why I am watching all this.  I explain that we Americans will be electing a new president in a few short months and that these two, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are asking for our votes.  President Obama is up for re-election and we get to decide whether we want for him to continue to be president for another four years or if we want Mitt Romney to be president instead.  Many questions from the kids.

Why is President Obama only president for four years?  Wasn’t there a president that stayed in office for twelve years?  What if a president dies while in office?  What’s the difference who is president?  Who are you voting for, Mom?  Why aren’t there any little kids with Mitt Romney?  Do you think Sasha and Malia like living in the White House?  I bet they don’t want to move again.

I tried to be even.  I told them about term limits.  I told him about Republicans and Democrats as age appropriate and diplomatic as I could.  As my parents, I have strong political opinions.  However, I am not comfortable with my children becoming little parrots around school and town spouting off all my political points of view.  As they grow, I want for them to decide for themselves.  (I think so, anyway.)   Since Paul Ryan is from our native Wisconsin, I may have spent a little more time talking about where he grew up and how he is now a pretty big deal in Congress and will be the Vice President if Mitt Romney gets elected.  This led into the conversation about how a person can go into politics and what the qualifications are to run for Congress and President.  It was a nice talk.

So over the last day or so, during the Democratic Party’s National Convention, the conversation had turned to, “Mom, who are you voting for?”  I told them I wasn’t sure yet, (liar, liar), that both are smart, qualified candidates and that I was going to do some additional reading prior to making my decision (pants on fire).   Maybe not totally a lie.  True, both candidates are smart men.  True, both have been deemed worthy to represent their parties in the election and will be on the ballot. True, both are well-educated and have support of many people. False, I have not yet made a decision.

I turned the question to them.  I said, “You have seen some of the speeches and I told you about each candidate.  Who would you like to see get elected?”  Mid answered first.  “I would like to see Mitt Romney get elected and have a turn.  We are supposed to let people take turns, right?  And Obama has already been president.  Romney has been trying to be president for a really long time, according to the person on the TV.” Okay.  Taking turns is a nice sentiment.  Jaybird went next.  “I want Obama to stay President, because I don’t want his daughters to have to move into a different house again.  And the other guy he is always with (Joe Biden) is funny.”  Apparently she has internalized some issues about our relocation and has picked up on how Joe Biden can be quite entertaining.  I turned to Apprentice and asked the question.  He replied that he is not interested, as neither plays hockey and we live in Canada.  Alrighty, then.

Jaybird had the comment of the night, however, when she went on to ask, “Why are there no women running for President?  I want there to be a woman President.  That would be cool.”  I agreed.  That would be cool, I told her, I would like to see a woman get elected President also.

So how did I do presenting the candidates in an unbiased, diplomatic, age appropriate manner?  Not perfect, by any stretch, but perhaps somewhere between Fox News and MSNBC.

The Right Honourable…

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the House.  My new job title.  Okay, much too formal, I am going to go with PMOH, because I rather like how it kind of goes with POTUS.  Elevated sense of self?  Perhaps. But that’s not important now.

As my former career was in Human Resources, I have the need to classify things, give people and functions titles, put them in a nice, alphabetized spreadsheet.  So I have been working on many different ways to describe my new job.

The options –

  • Stay at Home Mom.  This is the safe choice I guess.  But SAHM does not seem to fit, as I am not really at home all that much.  I am out running, volunteering, grocery shopping, whatever..
  • Chauffeur.  Also, a good choice.  I seem to shuffle people around the city quite a bit.  However, my job is so much more than that.  And besides, I drive a minivan, not a Bentley.
  • Homemaker. Hmm..  I am thinking that although I am the chief homemaker, a family really makes a home.  So this title should really be shared five ways, as we each have a responsibility to make our home a loving, accepting and positive environment.
  • Chief Bottle Washer.  Nah.  None of the kids drink out of bottles anymore and the bottles JB and I drink out of get recycled, not washed.
  • Chef.  Too skilled.  Although I am enjoying trying new recipes and all that, really not qualified to call myself “chef”.  Also, too specific.
  • Queen. Too formal.  Anyone that knows me is aware that my behavior is not befitting of a queen.
  • Primary Caregiver.  Again, too skilled.  This brings images of nurses and teachers at day cares, you know, skilled people when it comes to knowing what to do to care for people at all times.
  • Mama Grizzly.  Too Sarah Palin.  Strike it from the record.  Immediately.  *shudder*
  • Prime Minister.  This is ultimately what I settle on.  Why?  I give several “press conferences” per day about expectations for behavior and budgets to my constituents, (aka kids and JB).  I negotiate peace treaties every single day, much to my exhaustion. Building consensus is a huge challenge in this position.  I direct activities of the house and its members.

My first order of business is address the dress code.  No more business suits.

Now, if you will excuse me, my schedule indicates that I am due for a run. PMOH out.

I WON! I WON!

I received tweet from Jim at http://blogginglily.blogspot.com/ letting me know that he had awarded me the Kreativ Blogger.  WOOT!  It totally made my day, because I was having trouble getting motivated to write a post for the week.  Then, BAM! an award, a mention, a subject!  Jim is a good fella.

In any case, “the rulez” in accepting this award are that I need to post 10 things about myself that you may not already know, and that I will tag 6 bloggers in the post.  I am working on the 10 things, (will most likely have to call my mom), and tag the bloggers I can think of, because I really only know of a couple.  If you have read this blog before now, you know I am rather new here.

1. Most of my followers are family or friends of my mom.  I am not sure what this says about me.  When we told folks we were moving they said to keep in touch, but I am too lazy busy to get with each of them individually and have too much to say for Facebook, so blogging seemed like a nice way to let folks know what we are up to. And, apparently my mom has alot of friends and talks alot.  In any case, I appreciate all of you!

2. When I was much younger, all I wanted out of life was two great danes and a BMW.  To go even further, I bet a good friend $50 that I would not be married until after the age of 40, because I did not want any husband to expect me to have children.  How did all that turn out?  I married one year after graduating college, have a great husband, three wonderful kids, drive a minivan (that is NOT a BMW) and the thought of cleaning up after a dog… well, let’s just say I don’t see any pets in our future.

3. I am a feminist.  Many women’s issues are big hot buttons for me and I have not yet decided if I will post about them here.  See #1.

4. I did not change my name when I married.  At the time, I was militantly against it and JB did not care either way.  After our second child was born I thought about it, but two things held me back.  First, JB questioned why after so many years I would do it, because who really gives a shit, its just a name, and, second, it costs, like, $150 or something if you don’t do it right away.  So, still thinking that it is a silly tradition and being cheap, I kept my original name.

5. I used to do volunteer work for Planned Parenthood.  Not alot, a few times I made phone calls to donors and once handed out condoms at a Bonnie Raitt concert.  We got to meet Bonnie Raitt afterward.  She was wicked cool.  Bruce Hornsby had opened for her that night and although I did not get to meet him backstage, I did meet his parents.  Nice people.

6. When I was a kid and the other girls were frothing over David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, John Stamos or whoever, I wanted to be Jane Pauley.  To me, she was IT.  Successful, smart, the whole package.

7. Perhaps not a surprise because of #6, two of my favorite movies are Working Girl (Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith) and Baby Boom (Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard).  True, Melanie Griffith’s character takes down the bitch character that Sigourney Weaver plays, but I really like the bitch.  And I was seriously pissed when Melanie Griffith “did it” with Harrison Ford.  Cheapened the victory for me.

8. I tear up.  Alot.  Over all kinds of things.  Certain songs, when I finish a marathon, when reading posts about friends and family that are battling cancer, all kinds of stuff.  Remember that song “Bringing You Home” by Don Henley?  Its about the birth of his daughter.  It came out when I was pregnant with my daughter.  When painting the entryway to our house (at the time) it came on the radio and I bawled like a baby right in front of the open front door,  The neighbors must of thought I was nuts.

9. I started running a few years ago after seeing a poster for the Chicago Marathon.  At the time I was on the home stretch to finish my MBA and was seeking for “what to do next”.  JB and I were in Chicago to see Wicked, (highly recommend), I saw the poster, turned to him and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to run a marathon?”  He replied, “Sure”.  To be honest, I don’t think he thought I would actually do it.  Next thing we know I am training for my third marathon in as many years.

10. Back in the day, I played tennis with my dad.  Like almost every day.  My dad has only a couple of speeds.  We kid that if he is not moving he will fall asleep.  Actually, this is not only kidding, and I have the pictures to prove it. Another thing about Dad.  Not only did he play tennis with my brother and I whenever we wanted, he drove school bus for many of our sports activities.  I played alot of tennis back in the day and it was nice to have him courtside.

Whew!  Therapy session is over.. So the second part of “the rulez” is that I reveal the blogs that I like reading and provide links to each. (Right?)

For running – I like a few, but here are two –  http://katierunsthis.com/  and http://imrunnerchica.com/.  For politics and family all rolled into one, I like http://www.mommiesarelight.com/.  For family, I love http://blog.shoesonthewrongfeet.com/, her humor and ability to turn everyday events into a cute/sensitive/meaningful story is always a good read.  For travel, I like http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/..  I regularly read many blogs, just cannot think of them on the spot.  There are so many good ones..  Of course, I also read http://blogginglily.blogspot.com/ religiously.

So thank you, Jim, for bestowing this award upon me.  I will work to live up to it.

Tents, Money and Property

It came down earlier this week that the Occupy protestors will be removed from Olympic Park on Friday.  The protestors have been there since October and it will be interesting to see how they will leave the park (if they leave) later this week.  A couple of things..  first, it is really cold out there.  Like, way below zero Celcius.  When the sun is out.  Are you crazy? Second, you lost me on this whole thing.  I love a good protest against “the man”, but this one has become about camping in parks and tents and frankly, I don’t get it.  I know there is injustice in the world.  Tens of millions of children will go without clean drinking water today.  They will not have food to eat nor medicine for life threatening illnesses.  Girls are not sent to school because, well, they are girls.  Millions of children are on their own today because they have been orphaned by AIDS.   But, where was I?  Oh yeah, the tents.  Death to Capitalism and all that.

A funny story.  I can’t remember which occupy protest location this came from, (Vancouver? Calgary? Seattle?) but on Public Radio they interviewed a man about progress of the protest, a clash with police, their stance on fiscal policy, etc.  He went on about how capitalism takes advantage of those that do not have much, the growing gap between the “have’s” and the “have not’s” and how we should not be so self-centered and concerned about private property.  So far, I was with him, because let’s be honest, we (meaning our society) have some pretty f*cked up priorities.  I was ready for more, ready to pitch my tent (Okay, I don’t have one, but I was ready to sign on to the cause).  Then he continued to go on about how the police had confiscated his tent and he wanted it back.  Because, after all, it was HIS TENT, bought with HIS MONEY, and HIS PROPERTY.  No one else has the right to just take it!  Interesting.  So, if it were my tent that you needed and I were wealthy, (which I am not, so don’t get any ideas), and you took it, that is Okay, but because it is your tent and they are the police, its’ not?  You lost me. 

From where I am sitting, it seems that Adam Carolla may be right when he says this is all about envy and feeling underappreciated.  (be warned, his youtube rant is really good, but he drops the f bomb alot)  Just because some people have more stuff that you does not mean that you can pout in your tent in a camp somewhere downtown where you cannot afford to live because you are having trouble finding a job in a shitty economy.  The fact that the powers that be on Wall Street may be corrupt is not news, it is a constant filed under “duh”.  You have not uncovered anything new here.  

I have a piece of advice for whomever out there.  If you do not like your current situation, figure out a way to change it.  When you don’t like the way a company is run because they are homophobes or bigots or just plain jackwagons, start your own company with your own idea and create a culture of inclusion, acceptance and niceness.  Oh, yeah, and be sure you have a solid business plan to be profitable.

Fight fire with fire.  If you don’t like a businesses practices, like say, they won’t sell a Tshirt with a girl proclaiming herself a presidential candidate because it goes against your “family values” policy, yet will sell guns and ammo to whomever, don’t shop there.  If you agree that pizza is not a vegetable or that fast food should not be marketed to kids because it is making them fat, spend your money at a local grocery store.  If you think that pornography is degrading to women and should not be printed, don’t buy it.  Like it or not, its capitalism.  If you don’t like something, no one is forcing you to buy it.  The only reason there are so many fast food joints everywhere is because they are profitable.  Big box whatever stores are popping up everywhere because they are profitable.  If you don’t want to participate in their profitability, shop somewhere else, make your own food, go to a local farmer’s market.  You get the idea.

There is always a choice.  It may not be an easy one, but there is always a choice.

That felt good.  Prepare for more rants.  I have to refill my coffee.  Which, by the way, was organically grown in SE Asia on a sustainable farm, using fair wages, imported to an independent coffee roaster and sold by a locally-owned business.  Because that is my choice.

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